What does it mean to be “Net Smart” in an era of alternative facts and data tracking?  What happens to our human spirit when when we proceed into an ever more technology-infused existence?

Maybe the seed of a complex answer lies in art and intuition.

In this studio visit we talk to one of the great thinkers/observers of our times – Howard Rheingold.  “My art-making always has been a subconscious divination ritual that I’ve invoked in parallel with the rational techno-social forecasting I have done for fifty years.”  We are also joined by his daughter Mamie who was raised in a home of art, technology and curiosity.  She has also been behind a number of technological / human focused endeavors:

Mamie Rheingold designs environments, communities and experiences; first at Google, and most recently at a Brooklyn-based startup called Universe. She hosts salon dinners because there’s nothing like a family-style meal to facilitate new kinds of connections between people and give them a space to ask big questions. She cooks as a form of meditation, paints as a way to practice seeing the world around her, and tries to live by the words “yes, and!”

From a recent talk celebrating an exhibition of Howard’s art at the Institute for The Future (ITFT), he shared:

“I decided to become hopeful. Hopeful is a choice. We are all in some sense descendents of creatures who decided that there must be some way out of this impossible situation. Thinking that does not guarantee your survival. Not thinking that is pretty much a self-fulfilling prophecy. So maybe we will come up with some way out of this difficult situation. In fact, if you look back at where the human brain came from, and where speech came from and writing, very very difficult situations have forced the small number of those who end up surviving to invent a new way of life.”

How do new tools help us think outside the box when we make & design new stories? Join us to discuss this and more with two generations of Rheingold wisdom.

Possible Discussion Points

  • the network effect (what could this be from a critical angle, from an optimistic angle – how do we start to identify practices that balance these realities?)
  • distraction & mindfulness in the digital age
  • crap detection in the age of fake news
  • the difference between communities verses networks
  • the role that intuition plays in creative work, and the importance of paying it heed in the digital age
  • Mamie’s journey from Google to a Universe – take aways/reflections, future horizons
  • a two generational dialogue/perspective on digital culture, creativity in networks, the possibility of some kind of digital alchemy?

(….And there is always the Alchemical Dream Box.)

Learn more about the life work of Howard Rheingold in this talk at IFTF

He also is a shoe painter 😉


Annotate in Vialogue

Comments, Ephemera from the Hangout Chat and Twitter Stream

Amy: Does anyone keep a dream journal by the bed?

Geoffrey: I have found over the years that some of the best storytelling comes when the storyteller is in a place where they feel most like themselves — confident, comfortable, engaged. Do you have any suggestions on how to get youth storytellers to that space? Any exercises or openings?

Sandy: Send the link for where to buy an Alchemagikal Lucid Dream Box, please, Howard.

Howard: http://rheingold.com/Catalog.pdf

Geoffrey: Here’s one for any kids you know (13-18 or beyond for mentors) https://youngwritersproject.org An island of creative awesomeness in a respectful civil space of support.

Amy: There was just a great article about art therapy / creative makery for improving mental health and happiness, esp with the senior population. I call it Painting > Pills

Geoffrey: Howard… great point. Our educational culture does not honor peer-to-peer learning which is a space where we reside.

Howard: Geoffrey have you seen http://peeragogy.github.io/ ?

Amy: Co-learning is one of my favourite concepts from Howard… really reflects the shift and it actually reminds me of the Renaissance studio

Kevin: Creative Chaos — I like the concept because ideas bump into each other — I wonder, tho, how intentional chaos informs the current political landscape, too

Amy: purposeful play for the world.

Amy: why don’t people spend the entire first week on student generated questions rather than syllabi and answers

Kevin: I think the age of standardized testing has ruined the openness to “kreative kaos” in classrooms

Geoffrey: The current standardized tests that arose from Common Core have really set back the teaching of writing. We here at YWP have developed the Fun Writing Project for teachers — a platform with support to help teachers have a non-judgmental practice space for kids to write.

Howard: Sensemaking rather than digesting what is presented to you in an orderly manner

Amy: It’s difficult because creativity and curiosity need white space… something more rare than gold in education

Sandy: Robert Olen Butler teaches us that storytelling comes “from where you dream.” Can you relate your own experience with using the dream state to write your books and create your art?

Howard: I actually wrote that up recently, Sandy, read the top of https://medium.com/@hrheingold/the-past-futures-of-howard-rheingold-fac63abd5e70#.na2pdh2mb

Geoffrey: Howard and Mamie, would love to hear your reaction to rigidness of school. where’s the creative chaos as Jude would put it.

Amy: I think if respect is at the forefront ..which is essential for working and thinking creatively…then we’re good to go…important to establish an environment of trust and respect

Amy: The ability to live in uncertainty as Keat’s says “negative capability” is important

Richonda: @Amy, I agree! my poetry professor just went over the beauty of Keat’s quote about negative capability.

Geoffrey: Amy… hear hear. Amazing fact of our work: In 10 years of Internet platforms in and out of school, with an estimated 600,000 posts and comments with NO moderation we’ve had only a handful of issues… TRUST and respect were honored by kids quite naturally.

Kevin: “natural background noise of the world” — like that

Amy: sensemaking and being ok with living in the question…

Amy: I like to think of learning as this: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/D%C3%A9rive

Sandy: “We Chroniclers do well to be afraid when we approach those parts of our histories (our natures) that deal with evil, the depraved, the benighted. Describing, we become. We even – and I’ve see it and have shuddered – summon. The most innocent of poets can write of ugliness and forces he has done no more than speculate about – and bring them into his life. I tell you, I’ve seen it, watched it…” ― Doris Lessing, The Marriages Between Zones Three, Four, and Five

Kevin: Both sides of the spectrum, Geoff? I worried about this with Letters to the President project … who comes to these kinds of connected writing spaces? yeah for humor!

Amy: I REALLY adore https://ww2.kqed.org/learning/collections/do-now/ for civic discourse – allows students to participate on social media and create relevant artifacts

Amy: What about the role of the arts in protest / civic discourse…? Like getting all Picasso’s Guernica on it

Kevin: How does the Internet as Public Sphere play out for young learners, Howard?

Amy: I hope Twitter doesn’t die, as I feel like that is the only serendipitous SM platform so we expand our umwelt

Amy: wow! “YOU ARE A CREATOR OF CULTURE” should be in everyone’s classroom

Amy: What Howard is talking about reminds me of a lone medieval monk… creating custom culture in the marginalia. Again, people talk but don’t make… if more people were making it would be a much better world

Howard: Lippmann vs Dewey had this debate 100 years ago.

Amy: Except…we are human and driven by emotion… things have not changed for centuries. Howard – what are the go-to tools in your opinion for civil civic discourse

Geoffrey: Howard. And now journalists are considered “enemies of America.” Ironic

Amy: think the move from broadcast era to one of participatory culture has certainly ushered in a need for Dewey 2.0

Geoffrey: I think Mamie is hitting on one tool now: research. curiosity to find out whether that information is real, what the source is…

Kevin: Algorithmic Crap Detector App? Amy – good point about embedding philosophy and ethics into other subject areas …

Amy: But we don’t want to be algorithms..

Howard: I think such a tool is possible, Kevin. I wrote about a combo of algorithmic plus social crap detection in Net Smart

Geoffrey: Kevin, the ACD app would, in my mind, make things worse — we would rely even more on a machine to tell us whether something is true or not as opposed to what Mamie said about the need for each of us to question.

Amy: The human part is the unpredictable…and that can be ugly sometimes unfortunately– http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mike-shammas/for-a-better-society-teac_b_2356718.html

Geoffrey: Video game playing — “consuming someone else’s dreams” love it.

Amy: That on and “Paint what you like and die happy” (Henry Miller) are my mottos
like the surrealists! They made themselves wake up from dreams and sketch them immediately

Alan: Be More Dog https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Mz_dQ4-Y1g

Amy: What Howard is describing is MERAKI https://agreyeyedgirl.wordpress.com/2010/10/20/the-meaning-of-meraki/

Kevin: Amy – that’s new term for me ” doing something with soul, creativity, or love — when you put “something of yourself” into what you’re doing, whatever it may be.”

Geoffrey: A poem with no form, other than wordplay and images, an alchemy: https://youngwritersproject.org/node/13757

Geoffrey: new issue just being published as we speak… this month’s homage to kids’ creativity- https://youngwritersproject.org/thevoice

Amy: that willingness to tinker and mess around
by the way – this is a great transcribing project that involves a service plus love plus history

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